Headmaster since 2007, Michael Punt MA MSc PGCE (40s), a physicist who lives on site with his wife Gill and their three sons, all of whom attend the school – a fact that many parents say ‘keeps him in tune with pupils’ and parents’ experiences of Chigwell.’
His calm and positive influence is palpable throughout the school, with parents describing him as ‘approachable’, ‘well-liked’ and ‘respected’. In fact, many were swayed against the local competition purely on the basis of meeting him. ‘He doesn’t just talk at you in some grand hall – he chats with you in a relaxed way and seems to know exactly what you want to know,’ said one.
Pupils also speak enthusiastically about him. ‘He knows every one of us, as well as taking an interest in us,’ one pupil told us. Not for him a chief executive type headship, but rather a personal touch that’s helped by the size of the school and the fact that he and colleagues interview every child that comes here. Mainly, though, it seems to be down to his hands-on approach – he teaches pupils, does a lot of mock interviews and is often seen around the school. The week before our visit, he’d had all the prefects round for a meal and he eats regularly with the boarders.
Having grown up in nearby Brentwood, he did his degree at Oxford and his masters at Imperial, then worked at St Dunstan’s College as a physics teacher, working his way up to head of year and head of physics, after which he did a stint at The Perse School, Cambridge, as deputy head (academic) where he continued to climb the ranks until moving to Chigwell.